What a perfect job by Police Officer Syed Ali when he was confronted by five juiced-up dirtbags on the subway platform Dec. 23.
His military training, as well as his police training, clearly gave Officer Syed the tools he needed to fend off five men with his police baton, but his personal courage is something that doesn’t automatically come with training.
The NYPD cannot realistically expect most cops to perform this well under similar circumstances. If a police officer reasonably believes he is in danger, he or she can legally use deadly force (the gun) to stop an imminent threat. “Necessary force” that is permitted includes shooting a suspect(s) when those suspects are capable of, and likely to, try to take and use the officer’s gun. Clearly the men who menaced Officer Ali fall into that category.
That it took a very scary video to get the Manhattan DA’s office to approve serious charges against the five suspects is a shame, but is all too common in cases where there was a serious threat but no actual injuries, to the officer or an innocent citizen. If these five dangerous “animals” didn’t face real criminal charges, they would just slip through the cracks of the criminal justice system, and be free to threaten and harm other New Yorkers.
The arrest of three of these men and bringing of riot and obstructing government administration charges against them is just as important—maybe more important—than the arrest of a professional criminal like a robber or a burglar. However, District Attorneys are reluctant to spend their energy and resources against those who harass and threaten people every day, but who don’t commit serious felonies—yet.
Thanks to Officer Syed Ali for risking his life to save men whose lives are important, but who probably didn’t deserve such courageous restraint and compassion from Officer Ali.
MICHAEL J. GORMAN
Editor’s note: The writer is a retired NYPD Lieutenant and an attorney.
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